A federal appeals court has upheld a California law requiring crisis pregnancy centers to post and verbally share information with patients on how to obtain an abortion, a ruling that abortion foes call an infringement on free speech and freedom of religion.
On Friday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld AB 775, also known as the Reproductive FACT Act, which requires all pregnancy centers to “advise each patient at the time of her visit of the various publicly funded family planning and pregnancy-related resources available in California, and the manner in which to directly and efficiently access those resources.”
In other words, even crisis pregnancy centers must give patients information on how and where to obtain an abortion, complete with a phone number for those services. The information must also be posted in such facilities.
The three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit rejected efforts to overturn the law on free-speech grounds or even impose a preliminary injunction, saying the case by pro-life groups did not have strong odds of succeeding even though such laws have been ruled unconstitutional multiple times in the past.
The pro-life community is outraged.
“It’s forcing these centers, whose whole existence is to help protect women from the dangers of abortion, it’s forcing them to promote abortion in their own facilities,” said Arina Grossu, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council.
“This is a complete disruption and break of First Amendment rights, first of all free speech, second of all freedom of religion and the right to moral objection, since this involves the killing of human beings,” she added.
Grossu told WND and Radio America the law is officially designed to inform all California women of their “right to an abortion,” but she says the real goal is to put these pregnancy centers out of business.
“It’s trying to drive out pregnancy-care centers from California, because if a pregnancy-care center is going to have to promote abortion, a lot of them may close their doors,” Grossu explained. “This is a tragedy for women in California who are looking for help, who are looking for answers, who are looking for the truth.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Arina Grossu:
Grossu continued, “Here’s where it’s getting to: Either you do what the state of California tells you, or we’re going to force you to close your doors.”
She said this policy will add confusion to the women facing an unplanned pregnancy who visit a pregnancy center because they want to keep their baby, only to hear the opposite message.
“If she’s going to a pregnancy-care center, she’s going there because she wants to find solutions for keeping a baby,” Grossu said. “And then seeing these signs is very confusing. But I think what it does for the workers in these centers is that it forces them to participate in the very thing that they’re fighting.”
Grossu likens the state law to forcing a vegan store owner to inform customers where they can go buy meats or other animal products. She is also quick to point out that the law does not force abortion providers to deliver messages contrary to their mission.
“I would ask this court, would you require the same of Planned Parenthood facilities to say, ‘If you would like to keep your child, please send them to this pregnancy care center?'” Grossu asked.
Not only are Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers not forced to deliver that message, Grossu said former Planned Partenthood employee Abby Johnson said the abortion provider is known to refuse to let women change their minds about abortion.
“She talked about how women, once they’re in the Planned Parenthood room about to get the abortion, if a woman changes her mind, Planned Parenthood trains their staff on how to keep her in the room. How is that choice?” asked Grossu.
While those previous court cases give Grossu and her allies hope this decision will be struck down, Grossu notes that other recent laws infringing on religious liberty are being upheld, most notably the example of the Washington state pharmacy that refused to sell abortion-inducing drugs. Even though 30 other pharmacies existed within a five-mile radius, the courts rejected the challenge and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
Grossu said Americans must wake up to the fact that their freedoms are under attack.
“We’re going to be asked to stand up for our religious freedom in a time of persecution and civil and criminal prosecution, although we’re not there yet,” Grossu said. “We need to respect the rights of religious freedom and moral objection. If not, we’re going to see a completely different country.”
As WND reported, Dr. James Dobson, the extraordinarily meek Christian psychologist and perhaps the most well-known family counselor in America, called Tuesday for civil disobedience by operators of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in response to the decision.
“If California attempts to enforce this law then do not comply,” he said. “Make them put you in jail.”
“Christians across America must express their outrage at the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling to uphold California’s so called ‘Reproductive FACT Act,’” said Dobson in a written statement Tuesday morning. “This decision will require 150 pro-life crisis pregnancy clinics across the state to promote abortion services to the women they serve.”
He added: “Since Roe. V. Wade, privately funded crisis pregnancy centers across America have provided a refuge and an alternative to women who might have otherwise chosen abortion. They are vitally important in the fight to promote a culture of life, adoption and health. This ruling now forces these clinics to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs, and it is an affront to our constitutionally mandated rights to life and to religious freedom.”
“This decision is further affirmation of the importance of this presidential election,” he said. “Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be responsible for appointing the replacement of Antonin Scalia, and – in all likelihood – two to three other Supreme Court Justices. That court will eventually decide whether or not this remains the law in California and becomes law across America.
“This law – and laws like it – violate the U.S. Constitution, and they are a violation of our Christian conscience, and this ruling is yet another example of the power of activist judges,” said Dobson. “I encourage anyone with a voice to use it and to do so urgently. I have a simple word of advice to those pastors, priests and others who run California’s crisis pregnancy centers. If California attempts to enforce this law then do not comply. Make them put you in jail.”